Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Columnist: Rural voices must speak up to bring change to their towns

In his final column for the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), Thomas D. Rowley at right does not want to look back. Because with the debate over the Farm Bill just beginning, he says now is the time for rural America to speak even louder.

Rowley has written the column for five years, and while it may be ending he says that does not mean "the job I’ve been doing is done." While there is much work left to do, he highlights the efforts of the National Rural Assembly, which gathered 300 rural leaders to create an agenda for rural progress in June, and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who has called on philanthropies to double their donations to rural causes. Right now, however, the Farm Bill should demand rural America's attention and its voices, he writes.

Pointing to the rural development title in Sen. Tom Harkin's draft, Rowley hopes the Iowa Democrat "will be able to deliver some real help to rural communities and not just to the big-in-size-yet-small-in-number farmers that have always gotten the lion’s share of federal rural support." The Campaign for a Renewed Rural Development has brought together more than 600 national, regional and local groups in its call for more funding in the Farm Bill, and Rowley wants more to join. "So get out your pen, get on your phone or crank up the computer," he writes. "Add your voice to those calling for renewed rural development." (Read more)

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